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June 09, 2022

Philly lawmaker seeks to revise curfew for minors during summer in response to gun violence

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson streamlined the city's laws last year, aligning them with state regulations

Government Curfew
Curfew bill Kate Frese/For PhillyVoice

City Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson introduced a bill on Thursday that would revise the minor curfew law for children aged 16 and 17 in an effort to keep children off the streets during the summer months, which are more prone to gun violence.

Minors over the age of 16 could have to be indoors earlier this summer, as City Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson introduced a bill on Thursday revising Philadelphia's curfew laws.

The bill would not alter the city-wide curfew all year and would only shift the law for minors 16 and older from midnight to 10 p.m. during the summer months, when rates of gun violence tend to spike. If passed, the bill would go into effect immediately and would remain in place through Sept. 29. 

In her introduction during Thursday's City Council meeting, Gilmore Richardson made it clear that her bill was not a direct response to the mass shooting that occurred on Saturday, June 4 on South Street, which killed three people and injured 12 others. 

Her previous efforts to streamline the minor curfew law in 2021 enabled the city to expand its inventory of Community Evening Resource Centers, which provide a way for children and teens to stay off the streets after curfew without being directly referred to police for violations. 

"Young people are getting caught up in dangerous situations, and we cannot continue to go on like this," said Gilmore Richardson. "There have already been 92 children under 18 shot this year. We are besieged in our communities, and as leaders, we must do everything we can do keep our young people safe." 

Under the bill, current curfew laws for children under 13 (9:30 p.m.) and those that are 14 and 15 years old (10 p.m.) would not be changed. Rather than require older teens to be indoors by midnight, switching the curfew to 10 p.m. and expanding  community centers could help keep minors out of the line of fire, Gilmore Richardson said. 

Gilmore Richardson's previous legislation also altered the punishment for curfew violations, allowing children to be dropped off at one of the centers in lieu of spending the night in a police station if a parent is unable to pick them up after a violation.

At a press conference announcing the latest set of charges in connection with Saturday's mass shooting, Mayor Jim Kenney responded to questions about the bill, though he noted he hadn't read the legislation. 

Kenney said that there are already minor curfew laws in place and alternatives to children being put in police custody for violations. He also referred back to his own upbringing in Philadelphia, saying that the moment the streetlights went on, children knew to get inside their houses. 

Currently, there are two centers open in the city, and two more in development. The centers are open from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. daily. They are operated by community leaders and provide workforce development and mentoring for children who are out past curfew. 

Gilmore Richardson wants to expand the number of community centers to the Northeast to allow more parts of the city to have an alternative for children violating curfew. She told 6abc that from the beginning of the year through April 20, there were 493 curfew violations. 

"It is our sincere hope that these new centers will provide juveniles with an alternative to being on the street after curfew hours go into effect," Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said when the first centers opened in November. "These centers will provide valuable resources and programming designed to engage and teach our kids to make more positive choices about where to spend their time at night."

One of the two Community Evening Resource Centers currently open is inside the Dixon House on 1920 S. 20th St. in South Philadelphia. The other is at the Community of Compassion community center on 6150 Cedar Ave. in Southwest Philadelphia.